Getting quality sleep can sometimes feel like a dance that’s impossible to learn. Case in point: Working out before bed can give your body too much stimulation, but breaking a sweat earlier in the day can be crucial to getting some good Zzzs. Likewise, drinking water helps you feel hydrated and ready for bed, but guzzling too much H2O will send you to the bathroom a few too many times in the night.
And then there’s your diet: If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, certain foods may be the culprit. Whew! But the good news is, once you figure out this dance known as a good night’s rest, you’ll start waltzing with ease.
Check out our list of foods that might keep you awake at night. Avoid them before bed, and you’ll be in prime condition for a good snooze.
While we don’t think you should let anybody take your beloved $10 dark chocolate bar habit out of your life completely, there is evidence that eating chocolate right before bed could mess with your sleep habits. Most chocolate contains some amount of caffeine, which could keep you up at night. In fact, the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it contains. So if you must spring for a post-dinner chocolate fix, stick with milk chocolate.
2. Citrus Fruit
Citrus fruits tout tons of health benefits—Vitamins! Fiber! Heart health! But reserve those grapefruits and lemons for morning consumption. These fruits are high in acid, and eating them close to the time when you’ll be laying down in bed could worsen acid reflux. And we’re certain nobody wants to deal with that as they’re counting sheep.
3. Fried Food
We’re sorry to say it, but fried food really doesn’t have much going for it (besides the delicious taste). So maybe you indulge at the annual state fair, but know that funnel cake and fried Oreos may cause sleep troubles. Fried foods are high in fat, which means they take longer to digest, and might even cause bloating and indigestion. Not ideal when your head hits the pillow—but probably worth it every once in a while.
We love garlic as much as the next bedding company, but this cooking staple could be causing you to toss and turn at night more than you realize. A natural gastrointestinal stimulant, garlic increases your body’s production of saliva and gastric juices, which could take away from your ability to easily drift off to dreamland. Say goodbye to garlic fries (that’s both garlic and fried food!) as your favorite fix at the bar!
Ever suffer from heartburn or reflux? Then you better skip the raw onions at your next late-night summer BBQ. Yes, your partner will thank you as you go in for a bedtime kiss—and your body will, too. Onions are known to cause gas, reflux, and bloating—all of which can mess with your sleep. If you simply can’t stay away, make sure you grill or saute your onions before eating them, which lowers the acid content.
6. Spicy Food
Most of us know that hot sauce, jalapenos, and other spicy foods can lead to heartburn. But did you know that spicy food can even raise your body temperature? Since your body naturally starts cooling down at night, spicy food is a definite no-no if you want some good shut-eye. So while you may love to feel the burn while you’re eating, you’ll want to avoid it if you ever have difficulty falling asleep at night.
7. Caffeinated Food
Unless you’re burning the midnight oil studying for a test or building your business empire, you probably don’t make a habit of drinking coffee before bed. However, it’s possible that other sustenance is giving you that same buzz without your knowledge or consent. Many foods contain trace amounts of caffeine that could interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night. Play it safe and read the labels more closely. And stay away from ice cream, tea, soda, energy drinks, and bars that contain coffee beans, green tea, and black tea after nightfall.
If you love tomato-based foods like spaghetti, chili, bruschetta, and salsa, you may want to think twice before downing them late at night. Eating tomatoes before bed can be a bad move for two reasons. First, they’re highly acidic, which can cause heartburn. Second, tomatoes can cause urinary and bowel disorders, which don’t really lend themselves to great sleep. More serious tomato troubles are associated with eating way too many tomatoes. You probably don’t have to worry about those.
9. Cruciferous Vegetables
Isn’t it annoying when healthy foods land on a “don’t” list like this? We get it, but hear us out. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussel sprouts are great for your health, but they can cause tummy troubles like gas and bloating for those with sensitive stomachs. And while you probably don’t need to completely cut them out of your life, if you can’t fall asleep at night, you may want to avoid the crudite platter late at night.
You know how kids get all hopped up on sugar and start (literally) bouncing off the walls? While adults don’t necessarily have the same obvious reaction, your brain does start doing something similar in the midst of a sugar rush. So while it’s tempting to reach for a sweet treat after dinner, you may want to pass on the candy, ice cream, and cake if you’re looking for quality snoozing.
Start Sleeping Better ASAP
Avoiding these 10 foods that keep you awake at night will help you make progress toward eliminating any sleep troubles you might be having. But if you really want to maximize your sleep game, it’s time to combine healthy eating with other good sleep practices. Make sure you’re winding down away from your TV screen and smartphone, sleeping in a cool, dark room, and going to bed at the same time every night.
Investing in a high-quality weighted blanket can also up your sleep quality like never before, thanks to the magic of deep pressure stimulation (a.k.a. the feeling of a gentle hug, all night long.) Shop Comma Home to find weighted blankets for hot sleepers, cool sleepers, and everything in between.